From the high pressures at the Earth’s core to the vacuum of outer space, the ALS has tools for investigating samples from either environmental extreme. “Earth and environmental sciences” at the ALS covers a wide range of topics, from carbon sequestration and air quality to cometary composition and the formation of the solar system.
To narrow the focus a bit, the ALS has an important role to play in addressing a number of environmental issues, including environmental remediation, hazardous-waste management, global climate change, agricultural sustainability, and trace-element cycling in ecosystems. These problems present major scientific challenges, in part because natural systems are extremely complex at a range of scales. Moreover, the behavior of these systems is determined by a complex interplay of chemical, physical, and biological processes in spatially heterogeneous environments. The ALS can contribute to the knowledge base needed to address a variety of environmental issues by enabling a variety of investigations, including analytical chemistry, microscopy of heterogeneous media, and reaction kinetics in natural systems.